Beasts of Tabat (The Tabat Quartet Book 1) - Cat Rambo

Beasts of Tabat is one of those books where I don't quite know how to explain why it didn't completely work for me, though I'll try and collect my thoughts on the matter as I write this review.


The book is set in a fantasy world, centered on the city of Tabat which is currently ruled by a Duke and whose ancestors promised the people elections at a particular date, which is fast approaching. This city is also affected by the outcome of a gladiatorial combat, in which both Winter and Spring are represented, which determines how long Winter will last and one of the point of view characters of Beasts of Tabat (Bella Kanto) is the current reigning champion, which means Winter lasts far longer than it should. This is also a world populated by both humans and Beasts, creatures like minotaurs and oracular pigs, whose status is significantly less than that of humans.


Our other point of view character is teenage boy Teo, who comes from a family of Shifters (people who can change from human to animal form) but who doesn't have that power himself. In some ways this is quite lucky for him, as he's been promised to the clergy in Tabat in payment for their healing his sister and Shifters are despised and hated, to the point of being burned to death if discovered. Teo is taken to Tabat but evades his fate and lives on the street for a while, before ending up working for Bella Kanto's landlady for starters.


I think the problem I had with Beasts of Tabat is that it's so obviously the first book of a series, with both Bella and Teo ending the book literally in massive amounts of danger but the attention given to the world-building (which is impressive) far outstrips my ability to care all that much about either of them. I think it doesn't help that the author has made the stylistic choice to write Bella's point of view in first person and Teo's in third, which I found a little annoying at times - particularly so since Bella spends 95% of this book utterly sure of herself (with good reason at times) and only at the very end do things spin out of control for her, partly because of that sureness and her unwillingness to see when she's being used.


Meanwhile, the main villain Teo encounters appears to be doing the right thing (attempting to gain equality for Beasts) but using dubious methods and, while it's quite possible that more will be resolved in the second book (Hearts of Tabat, which is not yet published), I have plenty of other things that will take my attention before I might get around to reading that one, if I ever do.